I receive so many emails and messages from aspiring makeup artists asking questions about what it's like to be a makeup artist, that it gave me the idea to ask 2 of my closest MUA friends some questions myself for this week's blog.
Introducing Renee Baker and Linda Perriton.... my dear friends.
Renee and I go back years - we grew up in Borehamwood (the outskirts of North London) and both studied at The London College of Fashion. Renee is a few years older than me (I like to wind her up about that!) but I was always enamoured by her beauty & her style. She was by far the prettiest and trendiest girl in our town! It was Renee who actually inspired me to really take the idea of being a Makeup Artist seriously.
We became best friends (we are a group of 5 best friends in total) because our previous boyfriends were best mates. Once they were long gone our friendship grew and 20 years later we continue to be BFFs with our husbands and children added to the mix.
Sharing a massive friendship group holiday every year, keeps all our families linked and also gives Ren a chance to practice her Tina Turner impression dance!!!! ( she'll kill me for saying that!)
We share a love of not only makeup but also Interiors, with very similar tastes we are always sharing our new finds! I love her very much and wished we lived closer so we could see a lot more of one another.
Luckily for Ren, these days she works down the road from where she lives and is Head of the Makeup Department on Eastenders so has lots of tales to tell. Enjoy the read.
Renee, you are an incredibly experienced makeup artist- what is your biggest achievement to date?
At 26 I became the Series Makeup Designer on a TV show called London's Burning which at that time was one of ITV s biggest shows with viewing figures of at least 14 million! It was such an exciting show to work on as it had lots of stunts and SFX in every episodes, so we got to do loads of fab make ups.
I met my Husband Brad on the show and now we have 3 gorgeous kids together, so I guess that's quite an achievement!
Also, my father was a 1st Assistant Director on some big movies when I was a child including Labyrinth ,Willow & Princess Bride. He also worked on For Your Eyes Only and I remember visiting the sets and being in awe! I have worked as a daily makeup artist on a couple of Bond films, which was my dream come true! Pierce Bronson actually came over to introduce himself to me while I was having lunch in the canteen! I nearly choked on my food!
Other big movies that I have been fortunate to have worked dailies on are a couple of Harry Potter's, Star Wars, 5th Element, Evita, Sherlock and War Horse.
To be on the set of War Horse in the trenches with Steven Spielberg directing the scenes was also a career highlight for me.
Working on Eastenders, you work with many household names - Is there one person that you would love to work with that you haven't yet had the opportunity to do so?
I would love to make up the Queen. She is truly inspiring in her dedication to her country, and still a beautiful woman in her 90's
What are your thoughts on social media - are you an active user and if yes, does it benefit your business?
I personally like social media but I don't use it for work purposes much as a lot of the stuff I work on at Eastenders is highly confidential.
If you could invite 3 people over to dinner (lockdown being done and dusted) who would it be and why?
My brother Scott Baker as he is the funniest person I know, a great cook so he could do dinner and has an amazing voice .
Elton John as he would have some fantastic stories to tell and could play the piano for me.
Robbie Williams as he was my childhood crush! I'd get them all to sing to me after dinner!
Let's talk makeup - do you have one 'go to' product that you use on the majority of people you work with?
Anti Shine!- it's great for obviously mattifying the artists face without leaving a film as powders can sometimes do. It also is good for taking the shine off of some SFX make ups. A favourite at the moment is Velvet Skin Coat by DHC and it's lovely as a primer under foundation or even on its own as it gives a beautiful matt finish to your skin.
Which product within your makeup bag could you personally not live without?
Bobbi Brown pot rouge. I use it on my cheeks and lips and a small pot lasts a long time! I love it in Pale pink or Calypso Coral when I have a tan.
What is the oldest product in your makeup bag?
My Bobbi Brown pot Rouge in Pale Pink
What is your favourite lip colour - brand and name?
I love Mac Ruby Woo . It's a blue red that looks fabulous on most people.
Can you offer one magic makeup trick to our readers that really works?
Placing a mirror on a work surface that you can look down into really makes it easier to apply false lashes yourself. By looking down into the mirror it positions the eyes perfectly to apply them and this also works for applying eyeliners also.
Barbara Windsor taught me this trick years ago on Eastenders when I had the pleasure of making her up for the show.
Fashion : Who’s look/style do you really admire?
Audrey Hepburn . A truly iconic beauty whose style never seems to date.
What is your biggest makeup disaster to date...can you share any 80's/90's walk of shame looks with us??!!
Probably my curly cork screw perm in the 80 s trying to look like the woman from the Michael Jackson The Way You Make Me Feel Video. It took years to grow out and looking back on the photo's, - it was a big mistake!
Is there one piece of advice you have been given over the years that has really stuck with you and if yes, can you pass this on to us?
Work hard, believe in yourself, learn by your mistakes and move forward.
The Film and TV Industry is a very competitive, pressurised and fast PACED Industry to work in and often stressful. Never forget to treat others the way you would expect to be treated yourself and Manners go along way.
A smile and a clean working station are a must as first impressions definitely count .
How are you finding Lockdown? What are the best and worst parts for you?
Spending quality time with Brad and the kids has been amazing! I thought we would end up killing each other but actually it's given us some wonderful simple times together.
I love that the sense of community seems to be back, with people looking out for each other. I'm in awe of the wonderful NHS and key-workers who are putting their lives at risk in order to help others. I've also been given the opportunity to work with an amazing makeup artist called Naomi Doone in lockdown which is another career highlight for me. She is not only an award winning, Oscar Nominated Makeup Designer, but also a truly lovely person to work under.
The worst part has definitely been not being able to see and hug my parents and I'm looking forward to seeing all my friends again.
ON TO LINDA..who I like to think of as my fairy Godmother! (she is in fact my son's Godmother!). I met Linda through Renee actually - without ever having met her, I covered for her on the Drama 'London's Burning' (along with Renee). Fast forward 5 or so years and I had to go on Maternity leave from Loose Women and guess who turned up to cover me? Linda!!!
I then came back to work part time and we kept Linda on, which is how she became my dear wonderful friend.
Linda has had a really long and varied career (mainly in Drama) and trained at Granada many moons ago when you could actually join a TV channel to become an apprentice MUA ( they should bring that back).
She is someone who has taught me so many life skills. Firstly she is the perfect hostess - my family and I love spending a weekend at 'Hotel Linda's' and we are always spoilt rotten. She is a superb cook, so always has the most amazing snacks and meals going on...and is always shoving another drink in your hand!
She has the most phenomenal memory, she remembers names and dates like anyone's business! And her knack at making chit chat to people she's never even met always amazes me and I try really hard at copying her at this, because I see how relaxed she makes people feel, Linda is one of those people that when I'm having a tough day, I'll see her and burst into tears and she'll know just the right thing to tell me to make it all feel better. Love you Lin...Please enjoy the read x
You are so experienced within the Makeup Industry - what do you think is your biggest achievement to date?
I think my biggest achievement is to still be working within the industry after 42 years and raising my family...keeping all the plates spinning!
Which is the most exciting job you have ever worked on?
Working for Granada I was very fortunate to be able to work on some amazing dramas that enabled us to film abroad at locations you would never normally go to but the most exciting didn’t really involve a huge makeup job, it was all about the occasion. I was employed for week by Australia’s Network 10 News to make up their presenter to cover the Royal Wedding of William and Kate and because the news feed was live, the 12hour time difference meant that I was making the presenter up at 4am every morning. Our studio was a designated area within the colonnade opposite Buckingham Palace, Global News Networks had their own area but we were the only ones there during the week. Come the big day we were all in lockdown by 7am and got to meet our broadcasting neighbours...the atmosphere was electric and once the carriages started leaving the crowds went mad! We watched the service on a small monitor then waited for them to return for the balcony shot. To see the pomp and ceremony up close was thrilling and something that we Brits do so well and made me feel so proud amongst a sea of international reporters.
What is the newest item in your makeup bag?
Bobbi Brown eyeshadow crayon
Which product within your makeup bag could you not live without?
Do you carry any non makeup related items within your makeup bag that are useful - any hacks we need to know about?
Smelling Salts...not a make up thing but my Mum always carried them. Sometimes I get a bit head achy or a bit hot (menopause..!) A quick whiff of them just clears my head.
Which one face would you love to make up before you retire?
Cathrine Zeta Jones...she's total Hollywood Glamour - it wouldn’t have to be a glam make up but would love to do a character make up.
If you could only wear one makeup item for the rest of your life what would it be?
If you could invite 3 people to dinner who would it be and why?
Stevie Wonder..with Piano. I’ve always loved his music anyone of his songs takes me back to a different time in my life so we could have a real musical trip down memory lane.
Catherine Zeta Jones...I think she’s a real fun person, a girl from Mumbles who made it in Hollywood and married into a dynasty, I’m sure she’d have a few stories...she can also sing and dance so could do a duet with Stevie.
Rob Brydon..another Welsh contingent who really makes me laugh...he is full of pearls of wisdom and could be anyone we wanted him to be.
What are the best and worst aspects of being housebound for you at the moment?
I’m getting on ok I’m glad of the good weather to be able to potter in the garden and having the opportunity to do those jobs that I’ve been putting off like clearing the cellar..(not started that yet).
My house has never been so looked after...I would like to say tidy but my husband is working from home and leaves his work all around and my son is into cooking but not clearing up...I miss seeing mates but that will happen soon enough and we stay in touch via video links and texting.